CA Resets Channel Base With New Partner Focus, Support

CA is adopting a channel-first strategy across its entire product line in a move to finally arrest the ups and downs its solution providers have faced in working with the company over the years.

Under the program, 1,500 of CA's top customers are considered named accounts, where CA takes the direct sales lead but where partners can participate and collaborate, said Adam Famularo, senior vice president of partner sales for the Islandia, N.Y.-based software vendor.

Famularo, who in November took over as CA channel chief, said that under those 1,500 named accounts are 15,000 companies deemed partner-exclusive, Famularo said. "These customers have the same buying needs as our named accounts," he said. "But we will not have any direct reach into them."

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CA also is working closely with the top 60 partners in each of five product areas, including security, service desk, DevOps application delivery services, Nimsoft IT systems and cloud monitoring, and Clarity product and portfolio management, Famularo said.

Those partners will work closely with specific outside CA reps and technical specialists to develop their business in their area of technology focus, Famularo said.

For solution providers outside the top 300 to 350 partners, CA has assigned Wendy Petty, senior adviser for North America partner sales, to manage them through a two-tier distribution model via distributors including Westcon Group, Ingram Micro and Carahsoft, Famularo said.

CA is showing a real change of direction, said Jon Freeman, CEO of Mycroft, a New York-based solution provider and CA channel partner.

"CA has never been the most channel-friendly company," Freeman said. "But in the last six months, with Adam in his new position and Mike Gregoire as CEO, we've seen a lot of changes in how CA handles sales and channels. ... CA has never been as partner-focused as it is now."

CA's new focus on working closely with specialized partners outside the top named accounts is a good opportunity for Mycroft, Freeman said.

"We're actually interested in going after the new markets not visited by direct CA account reps," he said. "The top-tier enterprise customers have long 18-month sales cycles. We want to be in the midmarket where customers have much smaller decision chains."

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Bob Schwartz, managing principal at Digital Celerity, a San Francisco-based systems integrator and software solution provider specializing in CA's services and portfolio management offerings, said he has watched CA grow into a company that has a real focus on product development and the channel.

For partners such as Digital Celerity, who commit to CA with detailed plans for demand generation and other sales activities around the vendor's offerings, the support from CA is amazing, Schwartz said.

"If you look at the commitment they make to Digital Celerity and other partners, they have the right to demand we commit to working with them to build solutions around CA, and to invest in sales, marketing and demand generation," he said.

With CA focused on working direct with its named accounts, that leaves a lot of business in the $100 million to $2 billion companies where CA may or may not already have a footprint, Schwartz said.

"CA wants us to invest in bringing new opportunities to them," he said. "The channel has a lot of value in such companies because we have a lot of feet in the market."

The majority of CA's top partners only have one particular focus, Famularo said.

"A lot of partners sell multiple products, but only a couple actually specialize in more than one of those five areas," he said.

Not included in CA's new channel focus is its storage business. "Storage is a separate business unit and is exclusive to the channel only," Famularo said. "We took care of storage five years ago. There are no named accounts for us. Now it's time for us to move on the other areas of the business."

For CA, the changes are all about a new focus on the channel, Famularo said. "We're focusing partners by product, focusing sales reps by product, and focusing our go-to-market in the growth spaces," he said.